Just a really old car.

If you know me real well, you know that I absolutely adore cars. I think it is one of the greatest inventions ever. To put that into perspective, the first true car was built in 1870, over 143 years ago. And I’m claiming this young invention is some of the best in our 6000 year recorded history.

It’s also a very good opportunity for me to reflect on my attachment to such things. Is my love for cars evil? Is it contrary to what God commands human beings to do?

I think the answer is both yes and no. An inanimate object is not usually good or evil, but they can sway the souls of people towards good intentions and bad intentions.

For example, if my sole goal in life was to own the absolutely beautiful Mercedes-Mclaren SLR, and in order to own one I ignore, reject, and deny my duties as a human being, then it would be a totally evil desire that I’m harbouring in my heart. The SLR costs over $1 million dollars (in any currency, really) and to work towards earning that amount is no small feat. Perhaps on my journey towards automotive nirvana I stopped being charitable, or stopped putting money in Offertory, or practiced malicious business strategies to win my way to one million; and in doing so, I’ve committed many sins to get there. That’s not good. In fact, I may have won my Merc-Mclaren in the end, but I’ve certainly lost Heaven.

You don’t even have to desire a supercar to fall into the mortal sins of greed and envy. I see people unashamedly drooling over smart phones, clothes, music concerts etc, and all it’s ever got us in was a massive economic debt which we still don’t know how to steer ourselves out of.

“So are you suggesting we become puritan and burn all our material wealth in a big bonfire?” Well no, I’m neither Gnostic nor Buddhist. As Catholics, we believe God made everything good in the world. He gave us brilliant minds to conjure brilliant things. So brilliant, in fact, there are such things as Ferraris running around. What I am suggesting, however, is that if every Ferrari in the world was destroyed in a blazing fire, we’d nevertheless remain joyous in the hope of the Lord.

Christ’s victory is all that matters.

That is not all, however. St. Paul implied in his (second?) letter to the Corinthians that he hoped everyone would live like he lived: poor, chaste, and ascetic. As a 21st century gentleman, those are some bitter, bitter pills to swallow. Why would St. Paul ask us to live poorly, chastely, and ascetically? Why would he ask me to rid my desire of owning a sublime super car?

“The Assumption of the Virgin”, 1475-1476, Francesco Botticini

To put it quite simply, there are no super cars in heaven. In fact, there’s very little of what we know and cherish from this world. Many people think of heaven as a place with palm trees and piƱa coladas, crystal chandeliers and Christmas hams. Sounds a lot like what we hope heaven to be, rather than what it is. What it really is, is a place of intense love between God and his creatures, both men and angels. Some have even suggested the love is nigh-orgasmic, but discretion in metaphor is advised due to our concupescience. But yeah, all signs point towards that kind of blissful experience.

It’s not that rejecting our love of material wealth and sulking on the streets is what attains us the glory of heaven. It’s realizing that everything we previously thought to be beautiful is nothing compared to what God has planned for us, and we must fervently desire it to get there.

To finish things off, let’s remind ourselves that Heaven isn’t an egalitarian society. It has a hierarchy, and there are those who are some way away from God’s light, while others are completely bathed within it. According to tradition, The Blessed Virgin is the most exalted of all God’s creatures, and not even the Seraphim have a higher honor than her. There is also a less well-known one in which one of our Catholic saints asked who was the next most exalted of our brethren. Apparently, that person is St. Francis of Assisi. Mary, Mother of God, is honored for her meekness and humility. Francis was made pure by his complete rejection of personal wealth, and vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Somehow I don’t think either of them would ever desire a Mercedes-Mclaren SLR, and I ask them to pray that I too, can rid myself of excessive pleasures in order to love God all the more.